Yesterday afternoon found me roaming within the confines of the garage. It had been a while since I had last reorganized what I would call our storage room. I moved camping equipment back into place, took items off several six-foot tables that line one side, and putting garden tools back into their designated places. Yes, some of us are somewhat obsessed with the adage of “everything has a place and everything in its place!”
I took note of a number of cardboard boxes piled up on the BowFlex exercise unit that holds center stage in our garage. I broke down boxes and set them off to one side of the garage. There, my prized piece of exercise equipment was once again ready for use! “Use the BowFlex.” Those three simple words whirled in my mind. Exactly how long had it been since I had last worked out?
On the table next to the exercise machine was a file folder. Opening the manila sleeve, my fingers quickly found my latest workout sheet. It has been a habit of mine for some forty years to record every single one of my workouts. That way I can track progress and gain motivation from the prior workouts.
I had to look twice to believe what I was seeing! It had been exactly eighteen months since my last workout. It could not be! I sat on the BowFlex bench and let my mind wander. In December 2012, I contracted Cavitary Pneumonia. It is a condition where the normal lung structure begins to be replaced by a cavity. Ultimately in slapped me into the hospital for five days of intensive antibiotic treatment. Afterward, it took a good four months to feel halfway normal again.
Shortly after the pneumonia episode, I was diagnosed as hypertensive. It took a good two months for me to adjust to medication and dosage fine-tuning. Over the past few months, I have felt more tired upon rising than I was when I retired. My wife took notice that I was either fighting for breath or forgetting to breathe in my sleep. You guessed it; severe sleep apnea! As I look back over the past eighteen months; it is no wonder I did not getting around to working out!
There have always been three things that have not failed me in life. The first is family. Although sometimes imperfect, it has always been a priority and a steadying force. The second is my writing. I began my first novel at fourteen; but it was not published for fear of being sued by the James Bond franchise. Hey, I was a hormone-driven teenage boy at the time! Writing has always allowed for a mental release unlike any professional therapy! The third has been bodybuilding. By pushing my body to its physiological limits, I find that I a more alert and energy-filled. It is also a time where I can clear my mind, focus my spirituality, and take the all-too-rare selfish time that we all crave.
As I thought of my not-so-perfect health over the past year and a half; I realized that I was copping out! Yes, my physical state had been diminished; but not enough to warrant abandoning one of my life’s passions. I could have gone with working out less often, performing abbreviated workouts, or even reducing the amount of tonnage that I move in any given workout. No, instead I had walked away from it all; doubting my ability to continue.
As I sit at the keyboard right now; my shoulders are on fire, my knees ache, the calves are intermittently cramping, and it will take some effort to get off the couch later. You know what? I love it! As you might guess, the dust came off the BowFlex and I worked out last night. In spite of substantial soreness, I am on a true mental, physical, and spiritual high! I assure you that in two days I will be back in my self-imposed dungeon and pushing through another workout! As the sign in my garage reads: “Today’s House of Pain; Tomorrow’s Temple of Gain!”
The universe has a need to balance itself. We are familiar with the concept of “for every force, there is an equal and opposite force.” Darkness is tempered with light. Evil is countered by good. Drought is alleviated by flood. You get the premise, I am sure. It is no different with the human being. We need to keep our mind, body, and soul in balance. If any one of the triad falls out of balance; the totality of who we are suffers. That was my case. The body was willing and the mind was prepared, but the spirit was lacking. In short, I had fooled myself, which is the cruelest joke of all.
How many things have brought you joy in the past; yet are now stored on some dusty shelf? What dreams did you have as a child; that have now been kidnapped by adulthood? What sources of fulfillment have you denied yourself under the guise of “I just cannot do it?” Have you played that cruel joke on yourself as well?
In the past few months, I have returned to my first love, which is inspirational writing. Last night I returned to my second love, which is bodybuilding. It will not be long and I will find myself back in balance. Inner harmony is the greatest gift any one of us can bestow upon ourselves. The second greatest gift any one of us can bestow is to give another person the key to their inner harmony!
Chances are that you will not find me gracing the cover of “Muscle and Fitness” any time soon, if at all. But that will not dissuade my pursuit of physical excellence. You may not write that novel, sing in a rock group, or discover a new island. But that will not dissuade me from cheering for you!